Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bharti Yadav deposes in court

So Bharti Yadav has finally deposed in court. This has been a long struggle, and shows what the faith of a determined mother can do. The facts of the case are known to a lot of people, but a short recap should refresh matters for those who have not been following the case.

As per the prosecution, Nitish Katara had been very close to Bharti Yadav, the daughter of Ghaziabad's strongman, D. P. Yadav. This was not liked by his sons, and they eventually abducted the hapless Nitish from a marriage and killed him in 2002 in Ghaziabad. The issue around Bharti is that she was also there in the wedding and had stated that she last saw Nitish with her brothers. And given how good our police and prosecution is, this key witness was allowed to leave the country and go off to London. Ever since then, the case has been ongoing, but the absence of a key prosecution witness has prevented the case from reaching a logical conclusion.

For long, the mother of the victim, Neelam Katara has been fighting valiantly to keep the case alive and bring Bharti back to India for deposing in the case. For some interval in between, there was a move to drop her as a witness, but due to the doggedness of Neelam Katara, the focus has remained on getting her back to the country to depose. Bharti has tried various strategies to prevent her appearance, from her family feigning a lack of knowledge of her whereabouts to the external affairs ministry dragging their feet about making attempts to get her back.

It is only due to the efforts of the mother, and a very active judiciary that has been prodding the Government to take action against Bharti, including declaring her a proclaimed offender. And I would tend to believe that she is coming back only because she would have been declared a proclaimed offender; also, with her visa due to expire, and passport being revoked, she would have anyhow been deported back to India and been arrested. Coming here on her terms would have been a better deal.

To get Bharti declared as a proclaimed offender may seem like a very strange thing, given that she would have been affected by the murder of someone with whom she was close, she would also been under tremendous pressure from her family, and after all, she is not accused of any crime.

This is actually only half-true; in most modern judicial systems, helping in the passing of justice is seen as one of the primary responsibilities of a citizen. Evading this by either falsely giving evidence or trying to prevent giving evidence seems like actually helping in preventing justice from happening, and can actually be punished.

Now that she is here in India, we need to actually see whether she will take the side of justice, but it is equally likely that she would have buckled into pressure from her family and decided not to be truthful. If that being the case, then the prosecution has a responsibility to this society to not treat her lightly and ensure that they get the truth out of her. It can be argued that after all it was because of his proximity to her that a young guy had to lose his life.

This case also highlights a concern that comes out time and time again in various cases. The movement in this case is either because of the efforts by an individual (the victim's mother) or because the courts have pushed the case, something that we expect the prosecution and the police (with their almost infinite powers) to do but mostly never see. I wonder when this will change for the better.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:34 AM